Sunday, 26 September 2010
I've had to cope with the fact that some of my recent dreams have been shattered. Especially is this true in my ideal that I would travel around the nearer parts of Kent in my camper-van with my children going to festivals and generally enjoying days out in the English garden. Alas, the camper-van it would appear is irrepairable and at the worst - dangerous!
What It Feels like on the inside - Sort of!
The Way in which people on the spectrum cope with changes is part of makes up the diagnosis of ASD. OK, for those hippies among you, let's say: I have a personality which copes particularly badly with changes, there are a number of other people on earth who share this trait and similar others. So...Why does ASD affect people in that way and how does it feel to be on the other side?
Er, mostly, it feels like lots of small pins scratching on the inside of the nervous system that you cannot stop but want to. Another feeling might be a seemingly uncontrollable sensation of loosing your mind. It may also be described as having a computer in your mind that begins to short-circuit and shut down.
Of course, these days I still want to stand in the middle of the room and scream on the top of my voice or fall to the ground in a boneless heap when changes happen but I don't. Having a recognition of ASD for me means having a commitment to addressing some of the issues and challenges this brings up. I still haven't learned to breath when a 'change attack' happens, I still resist, I still occasionally have tantrums but I do have a greater understanding that the attack is happening because of my resistance to change and I try to convince myself that things will be better - eventually!
It isn't easy for those around me to cope with my lack of ability to cope with change and the effect that has either. There is a tendency for me to need to grasp on to something consistent, which may result in repetitive or inappropriate behavior to escape the sensations and make sense of the world again, there may be shouting involved, there have even been occasional outbursts of violence when the change is dealt with especially badly. I thank my family for the effort that and patience that has been put in so far to assist me through these difficulties, especially since I am the mother of my family and unfortunately for all, the main responsible guardian!
What the Hell is it Caused by?!
I think in my mind, one of the main causes of lack of flexibility in ASD is actually not what happens during change but what happens before change, or shall I say, the way the ASD mind works 'normally'. Because in ASD, the mind seems to me to be stuck in a very linear thinking pattern, the thoughts of the ASD person run in straight lines or fit into boxes of one description or another. As the person with ASD grows older the amount of boxes grow and the lines have offshoots of lines etc. What I would say is that if you could map out the mind of the ASD person their brain would be a road map that would look more like an American highway than an english countryside.
It's very difficult to think in 'curves' in ASD, whether this is learned behavior or whether the child misses a part of their early development in this area I do not know, what I do know is that the more 'roads' you can put on the map the less low down the ASD scale you will appear because in fact you have more reference points to refer to in conversation for example and will appear to have a more active and successful life! In coping with changes however, it does not matter how many roads or how complex your road system is because the change represents a deviation. The ASD person does not have very flexible thinking so the change could be imagined like a Sat Nav trying to direct you on a road that has not been built into its system yet! The Sat Nav goes crazy - it cannot compute! Likewise the ASD person goes crazy - it takes time to reload the map and accept it as part of the system.
What You Can Do In a Meltdown!
I think the best thing anyone with an ASD friend or person can do when their friend experiences a meltdown as a result of change is to realise first of all that the situation IS temporary and that the person's brain has just gone into overload. Think of it like when your computer is trying to calculate too many things at once and everything starts to freeze up or close, when this happens you have to stop work, reboot and start again. These days the more advanced computers can often pick up files you have just closed and reopen them again, this can also happen when the ASD person starts to recognise more fully their condition...but it takes time!
Diversion tactics for highly stressful situations can often work well because this gives the ASD person's brain time to recalculate without consciously being aware of the situation. Avoid being condescending or patronising however because ASD often comes with a high IQ and although at these moments the person may appear to be one brick short of a lorry load they are often acutely sensitive to what is going on around them and may actually explode and attack YOU during this sensitive time. Worst, you may risk loosing your friends confidence because condescending attitudes are akin to the feeling that one is being 'humored' and of course, we all like to keep out dignity.
I think I've covered it all for now. This isn't supposed to be a document of fact - just my passing feelings as they came up about it. I think it could be helpful though. If you have any questions please make a comment below, if I can answer them it means I may have to think more fully about the subject, which benefits me and possibly those who deal with situations like this.
Does this resonate with others of you out there?